Tag Archives: Leicester

A gay man’s experience of using PEP (Emergency HIV medication)

In recent months I experienced something I never thought I’d have to deal with when I faced the possibility that I might have contracted HIV.

I have been sexually responsible for my entire adult life and have always been heavily influenced by warnings of the past regarding HIV and AIDS, however all it takes is one moment of passion to let your guard down and you can find yourself in a situation similar to mine which resulted in me taking the HIV emergency medication known as PEP. The days leading up to my 28-day treatment were possibly some of the scariest of my life. Experiencing this drug first hand and the people I encountered along the way brought on a variety of conflicting emotions and an understanding of sexual health I never thought I’d have to comprehend.

Story via Metro

What is PEP?

Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is a month-long course of medication which aims to prevent HIV infection after the virus has potentially entered a person’s body. The drug is used as an emergency measure on a person who may have been exposed to the virus, either through infection or sexual transmission. Although PEP is not 100% guaranteed to always work, the success rate is very high. It’s very important to make clear that PEP should not be considered an alternative to using condoms as prevention for contracting HIV. Using condoms is the most effective method of preventing HIV transmission as well as other sexually transmitted diseases.

The drug should also not be viewed as some form of a morning after pill either – PEP is a powerful drug and users like me risk side effects, not to mention the fact PEP isn’t taken on just one occasion like with morning after pills. I myself am lucky enough to have not experienced any side-effects of PEP, but the potential side-effects include prolonged headaches, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting. If you experience any of these side effects you should not stop taking the medication as once stopped, PEP will not be effective. Contact your doctor to discuss any issues you may be encountering on the drug to get an informed decision on what to do next. Timing is also crucial when it comes to PEP. If the course of drugs has not started within 72 hours of potential infection, the drug will no longer be effective.

Why I took PEP

My reasoning for using this often misunderstood drug was down to one thing: paranoia. The partner I had engaged in potentially risky sexual activity with was someone I know to be practising safe sex, and although we weren’t in a relationship we were very open with one another about our fears of HIV risks in the gay community and HIV tests we had previously taken. Nonetheless, I couldn’t shake the feeling of ‘what if?’ after this particular sexual encounter.

After two days of endless overthinking, excessive Googling and sheer panic I decided to bite the bullet and visit my nearest sexual health clinic. On this particular evening the clinic stated upon my entrance that the session was for appointment-only patients – my heart sank as this was my final chance to obtain PEP before the 72 hour window had closed. However, after quietly asking if I could speak to a nurse in private I was humbled to learn how genuinely concerned and helpful the staff at the clinic were. I was ushered into a private room where I explained my situation and within five minutes the nurse had made space for me and I was on the waiting list.

After a short wait I was seen by the doctor who carefully took note of my situation, perfectly explained what PEP was and reassured me that coming to the clinic after potentially being exposed to HIV was the right thing to do. Hearing that my decision to take PEP was the right one was all I wanted to hear from a medical professional at that time. The doctor agreed with my sentiment that if you’re asking yourself ‘what if?’ then you should absolutely take no risks when it comes to HIV, because, ultimately, the only sexual health status you can be 100% sure of is your own. After taking a few blood samples and a quick HIV test, which is something I had done many times over the past few years, I was given my PEP medication.

The instructions were to take one tablet in the morning and two at night, taken exactly 12 hours apart at the same time every day. I was however only given a three day supply of the drug. The doctor informed me that this is normal practice and it’s up to the patient to pick up the remainder of their 28 day supply from their pharmacy. It is absolutely imperative that users of PEP plan ahead to make sure their supply of pills does not run out before retrieving the full medication.

The future

My experience with PEP, which I am currently still using until my 28 days are up, has been both fearful and insightful. In the short amount of time between considering starting a course of the drug and actually taking it I learned more about HIV and the treatments available than ever before. I also came to appreciate the services we have available in this country – if I wasn’t lucky enough to live in such a privileged part of the world who knows how I would be forced to handle a situation like this. Life after PEP will most likely enhance my sexual health paranoia, however I believe that being overly careful is always better than being slack when it comes to an issue such as this. Although I’m confident my treatment will be successful, I am currently still in my PEP bubble which involves a daily routine of taking pills with an alarm reminder at either end of my days. In the end, whether I actually needed the drug or not in the first place, it was most definitely worth it.

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We’re Recruiting! Finance Manager

LASS (responding to the challenges of HIV and health) is 30 years old this year. In that time, it has seen the environment around HIV treatment and prevention change radically. Over the last few years we have been branching out; we have started our own social enterprise and have started to generate income in a much wider variety of ways. However, strict control of our finances remains a priority and we are looking for an experienced person with accounting qualification to AAT licensed accountant level 4 or equivalent.

The task list includes:

  • Maintain financial procedures and financial controls
  • Ensure finance reporting and accounting is managed in a timely manner and in keeping with all necessary financial protocols
  • Administer and monitor bank accounts and payments
  • Income management – invoicing, record keeping
  • Payroll
  • Assist with the financial aspects of bids, grant applications and project proposals
  • Annual returns
  • Prepare accounts for audit or independent review at year end and liaise with the external company providing these services
  • Use appropriate finance software packages to produce report and manage accounts – we use SAGE

There is the opportunity to work flexibly and to work-from-home on occasion.

To apply, download and review the Job Description / Person Specification and please send your CV together with a letter of application outlining your experience, knowledge and skills in brief against the person specification to Caro Hart (caro@lass.org.uk)

Please give examples from the world of work, volunteering or other areas or work. Please note that your application will not be considered unless you have completed the letter of application in full.

  • Closing date 24th November 2017 at noon.
  • Interview date Friday 8th December at times between 09:00 and 13:00 (Please indicate your availability in your covering letter).

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Gallery

Photographs from Leicester Pride 2017

This gallery contains 77 photos.

Originally posted on tjrfoto:
Leicester Pride is attended by more 10,000 people each year with more than 2,000 taking part in the parade through the city, starting at The Curve and ending at Victoria Park.  Leicester Pride celebrates equality and diversity…

Jenny Hand – LASS CEO due to retire from LASS next week.

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Jenny Hand LASS CEO since 2008

Jenny Hand has been the CEO at LASS, Leicestershire’s HIV specialist charity for almost 10 years and will retire in June this year . With Jenny at the helm, LASS has moved forward with the changes in HIV medication and support, advice, information, prevention and awareness needs. In 2013 LASS was recognised best 10 health charities in the country with a £30,000 Impact Award from GSK with the Kings Fund. LASS continues to benefit from being a member of the Impact Award alumni attending Kings Fund training with other Award winners and taking part in research and reviews.

LASS was among the first charities in the Country to introduce free instant result HIV community testing, demonstrating huge savings for the health service through enabling people to know their HIV status and be referred for appropriate support and medical treatment through a fast track arrangement.

LASS also set up a social enterprise – trading as Well for Living and through this has worked in partnership with other small local HIV services in the region to provide enhanced awareness and prevention services. Most recently the regional partnership has delivered a public health England funded innovation project promoting HIV testing in the workplace. A full report on this pioneering work is due to be released this spring. Jenny says ‘the findings are very encouraging not only for HIV but for other workplace health awareness developments.’

Patrick Bowe, Chair of the trustees at LASS, is immensely proud of the work achieved at LASS over the past 10 years and while he would have hoped Jenny might stay for a few more years sees this as an opportunity for LASS to recruit a new CEO  who will be able to lead both LASS and Well for Living into the future.  ‘LASS will enter its 30th year in June and there is still a huge amount of work to do before people living with HIV can live without stigma and discrimination and to ensure late diagnosis is prevented. The CEO’s role will be critical in taking forward the organisation.’

Jenny is looking forward to continuing some part time work focussing on partnerships and in supporting organisations through bid writing.  She will have more time with her family and for holidays and travel.  She enjoys playing cello in local orchestras, walking, and playing bridge.  You may even find her volunteering in the local community when she retires.

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Leicester’s new A&E / ED department

Today at 7pm the Balmoral Building at LRI (main entrance) will close permanently so access to A&E/Balmoral will not be possible.

Here’s a new map of the LRI site, with directions to both Adult & Children’s ED.

You can see the new department online at Leicester Mercury.

Watch: First look around Leicester’s £48 million emergency department

http://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/here-is-a-first-look-at-leicester-s-48-million-emergency-department/story-30288394-detail/story.html

New £48 million emergency department in Leicester opens its doors to patients – live updates

http://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/new-48-million-emergency-department-in-leicester-opens-its-doors-to-patients-live-updates/story-30294786-detail/story.html

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Thank You to HRH Prince Harry & LASS Partner Organisations

HRH Prince Harry with Salma Ravat & Nadine Coogan (Photo: Tom Robson @tjrfoto)

Partner organisations joined LASS in a training session led by Juliet Kisob and Sadiya Mohamed.  They looked at the role of community HIV testing in encouraging people to know their HIV status and to help reduce late diagnosis.

CEO Jenny Hand introduces HRH Prince Harry to Sadiya Mohamed & Juliet Kisob. (Photo: Tom Robson @tjrfoto)

They were joined by HRH Prince Harry for workshops where they used a case study to look at how critical partnerships are to breaking down stigma and to identify new places for LASS to test in our 30th year. In Leicester 59% of patients are diagnosed late, which is 20% higher than the national average.

HRH Prince Harry unveils a unveiled a plaque marking the start of LASS’s 30th year. With Evernice Tirivanhu, Jenny Hand & David Rowlands (Photo/Animation: Tom Robson @tjrfoto)

Prince Harry unveiled a plaque marking his visit and 30 years of LASS. He invited trustee Evernice Tirivanhu to assist him She said: “It’s quite a special day for us.
“People living with HIV have to fight a lot of stigma, and to find that members of the royal family are willing to come and support the charity is very encouraging.”
Prince Harry’s visit came as the National AIDS Trust reported “an alarming trend for cutting or completely decommissioning HIV support services across England and Wales”.

LASS has been absolutely delighted to welcome partner organisations yesterday.  By working together we demonstrate unity within the voluntary sector and strengthen the approach of social care, support and advocacy across Leicester, Leicestershire, Rutland and the East Midlands.

You can find coverage of Prince Harry’s visit to LASS, and other Leicester Projects from the following news outlets.  Photographs from the training session are in the gallery below.

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Appointment of Chief Executive

LASS was recognised as one of the best health charities in the Country by the Kings Fund with GSK, gaining an Impact Award in 2013.  We are an independent, non-profit organisation providing information, advice, support and advocacy services for people who are living with or affected by HIV.  A large part of our work is also raising awareness about HIV, providing training, workshops, free confidential HIV testing in community settings. We work in partnership with other agencies to challenge stigma and discrimination.    The services we provide aim to improve people’s health and well-being, ultimately helping them to live life to its fullest and contribute to the prosperity of their communities.

LASS now seeks to appoint an exceptional Chief Executive to continue the successful delivery of our services whilst further developing the charity and its social enterprise ‘Well for Living’.  The Chief Executive will be expected to provide both strategic and operational leadership of both our charity and our social enterprise, working effectively with funders, local government and leading a passionate, dynamic team of staff and volunteers.

We are looking for a successful visionary leader who can combine excellent strategic and functional delivery with a natural ability to empathise and work directly with vulnerable adults.  With proven income generation and business development experience, your leadership will ensure LASS and Well for Living’s services are sustainable and of the highest quality, and your inspirational style and personal credibility will help to leverage our profile, networks and connections even further.

Critical to your success will be a genuine passion for equality and making a difference to the wider community as well as a commitment to developing a long standing charity which aims to be a leader in its field.

To learn more about this unique opportunity, download the Job Description with Person Specification and application form  and  return by post or email as specified on the application form.

  • Closing date for applications: 24th February 2017
  • Interviews and presentations:  First stage 9th or 10th March 2017.
  • Final stage: Saturday 18 March and Friday 24th March.